Minister of Education Nikki Kaye and Associate Minister Tim Macindoe are calling it a “huge investment in schools in our fastest growing city”. Labour’s Chris Hipkins says it’s a crafty bit of National PR.
Among the news for education unveiled in Budget 2017 was $240 million set aside for the building of four new schools in Auckland, the refurbishment and extension of others, and the construction of five new special education ‘satellite units’, to be built on existing school sites.
Details of the spend were announced last week at Stonefields School, one of those that will benefit with a ‘phased expansion’.
“This latest package will provide a further 4000 student places on top of the 17,000 already announced, which means we’re now on-track to deliver an extra 21,000 student places in Auckland by 2021”, said Ms Kaye at the announcement.
“We have now also announced all nine of the new schools pledged in 2014, with the additional four schools announced today adding to new primary schools in Hingaia South, Kumeu, Scott Point, Flat Bush South East and Ormiston Junior College.”
Labour’s education spokesperson Chris Hipkins sees the announcement as the continuation of a National public relations theme. He says the Minister has simply ‘re-announced’ funding that should have been spent from previous budgets.
“The $240 million announced today is not new money for a new idea. Its old school National trickery announcing funding they first announced in 2014 but failed to spend… Why has the Government failed to spend the $350 million they promised three years ago, to get ahead of demand?”
Minister Kaye said today that Mr Hipkins is being selective in his objection.
“Regarding the inference that the $240 million announced under this year’s budget is an underspend from a previous allocation, it would be very misleading to imply we’re not going to deliver well over the original amount committed to in Aug 2014, by taking a figure – $107 million – which represents actual spending only part-way through the four-year timeframe. This figure doesn’t reflect the funding committed for all the other projects.”